Expansion of a School in Kasur
The Association for the Development of Pakistan has approved funding for the expansion of a grammar school established by the SOS Rural Support Program in the village of Chabbar Chowk, District Kasur, Punjab. The current school facility has filled its capacity and does not have space for more students, despite increasing demand.
The school was built to hold 150 students and now educates 256 students. As a result, students in multiple grades are sharing one classroom. The funds given by ADP will go towards the construction of an additional floor atop the current building and will add 5 classrooms to the current structure. This will allow for each grade level to have their own room and allow for approximately 150 students who are awaiting enrollment to join the school.
The SOS RSP school aims to provide equal access to quality education in underprivileged areas. In order to do so, the school has to build additional classrooms for the students needing access. Currently, to support its operating costs, the school charges approximately Rs. 350 per month to paying students and plans to raise this tuition by Rs. 50 per month in Spring 2012. Scholarships (half or full) are available for lower income families and children of teachers and staff.
The SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan is a private social welfare organization in Pakistan. In 1990, SOS began working in collaboration with UNDP/UNCHS (HABITAT) on rural development in the Kasur District of Punjab in the form of the Rural Support Program. It was designed to focus on the impact of floods on the people and their socio-economic condition. Activities include establishing community partnerships and micro enterprises; providing micro-credit, education, access to clean drinking; and supporting human health, food rights, waste disposal and equal involvement of women in all areas.
Over time, SOS has established 16 schools in Kasur. In 2006, SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan established the Grammar School at Chabbar Chowk as a central point to eight villages in order to maximize access to beneficiaries – the location is accessible to over 23,500 residents.
As described above, the school has run out of space and needs to expand in order to accommodate the rising demand. After this school expansion, the Grammar School will be able to enroll approximately 150 additional students. They will also be able to separate grade levels, which will allow for more specialized educational settings. It is noteworthy that SOS RSP provides the only all girls’ high school in the area.
Success for this project will be measured via increased enrollment and attendance at the grammar school, primarily for female students. Additionally, ADP will closely monitor the quality of education being provided to the students post-expansion through frequent reporting on both teacher and student performance.
ADP is excited to fund this project because it increases access to basic education to an impoverished, flood-affected area.
- -Critical Need: Over 150 students are awaiting enrollment into this school. Alternatives are scarce in the area with few options made available to the children and parents. The additional classroom construction will increase access to education and improve the quality of education by providing well-ventilated, well-lit, designated spaces for each grade level.
- -Social Return: Construction of the additional and classrooms will give more parents the opportunity to send their children to school. This is the only all girls’ high school in the area and many of the teachers who teach at the Grammar School were educated there as well.
Does SOS RSP serve all socioeconomic sectors of society?
SOS believes that all children deserve the right to education regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. 30% of its enrollment quota is specifically designated for students who are identified as “vulnerable” or “extremely vulnerable” and do not pay any tuition (or only 50%).
These vulnerable students are selected using the criteria of the standard Poverty Scorecard, a general scorecard that is widely used in Pakistan. Their parents submit applications to a School Management Committee (SMC); representatives from the committee and SOS go and validate this data from community members.
How can we be assured that SOS RSP is actually providing high quality education?
The SOS RSP Curriculum uses the Oxford Syllabus up until third grade, after which (from the fourth until tenth grade) it uses the Punjab Textbook curriculum, as required by the Punjab government.
All the teachers at the school are highly qualified (90% have a BA or MA), and SOS continuously strives to hire teachers with at least BA and B.Ed with two to four years of teaching experience.
Additionally, all teachers go through a rigorous selection process, which includes a written test, a trial teaching period which is assessed by a senior member of the faculty, and an interview with 3-5 faculty members. Chosen candidates are then required to complete a probation period of three months before a letter of employment is offered.
Furthermore, SOS RSP also arranges yearly teacher training, both internal and external. External training includes training by Change In Education (of the Roots International School System). SOS has also developed a teachers’ observation format to monitor the teachers’ performance on a weekly and monthly basis. If gaps are identified, teachers are guided by senior faculty members.
SOS RSP also continuously monitors the quality of education offered at its school, and every month, it holds a meeting of the School Management Committee, which includes non-faculty members of the local community. The meeting is to discuss progress relating to issues such as teacher performance and parental concerns. The graduation rate of the school has been *106% of the total number of students.
*The school calculates ‘graduation’ rates from the beginning the first grade, i.e., if they had 100 students enroll into a cohort at Grade 1 and by the time they reached Grade 10, they had 106 students.
How can we be sure the new classrooms will have a positive impact on the local community?
The SOS Kasur school is located in the center of five rural villages, with no government or private school within a 3 kilometer radius. Thus, there has been an upsurge in enrollment, from the initial 150 students at the time of the school’s establishment to 256 today.
The school started out with six classrooms but in response to the upsurge in enrollment, three low-cost classrooms were built from public donations in an attempt to accommodate more students. However, they are low in quality (without ample light and ventilation) and because of the large number of students, the school still combines two to three grades in one classroom.
The new classrooms built with funding from ADP will help alleviate the number of students in each class, as well as allow the 150 children on the school’s waiting list to become enrolled.
Does the school have good relations with the local community and with the parents of the students?
As mentioned, the school holds a monthly School Management Committee meeting, which includes a strong ratio of local community members, in which issues are raised and discussed amongst community members, parents and teachers.
Additionally, a Parent-Teacher Meeting is held on a quarterly basis in which teachers discuss issues the child may be facing and then guides the parents on how to approach these issues.
Finally, the school plans to involve the local community in the construction project of the new classrooms, and will invite members of the community to sit on a committee that will closely monitor the construction of the classrooms.
As part of our monitoring process and commitment to donors, we recently had a volunteer go out into the field to see the impact created by this investment after one year. The school expansion project has been very successful. The community has taken over the school and is extremely happy by the new facilities and the quality of education their children can now avail.
By January 23rd, 80% of the construction of the expasion of the Grammar School in Chabbar Chowk was completed. The project will be finished by February, 2013.
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